Across Israel, Meir Panim responds to the growing needs of the country’s 1.75 million impoverished residents through various food and social service programs.
Shortly after Sarah Palin provoked a barrage of criticism for her use of the term “blood libel,” a Democratic congressman named Steve Cohen compared Republican statements about the Obama health care reform to “the big lie” told by Joseph Goebbels, saying it’s “like [a] blood libel. The same kind of thing.”
Cohen further posited, “the Germans said enough about the Jews and the people believed it and you had the Holocaust.” For the most part the left excoriated Palin for being insensitive to Jewish suffering, while the right has either defended her use of that historical term or has given her a pass on it. I am one of the few liberal Democrats who, while criticizing her use of crosshairs in identifying contested congressional seats, found nothing objectionable in her use of “blood libel” as a metaphor to describe what she regarded as a false accusation of complicity in the bloodletting in Tucson.
I have heard little from the left regarding Congressman Cohen’s more extreme statements.
The irony, of course, is that many of the same people on the left who criticized Palin for insensitively to Jewish suffering have themselves contributed to Jewish suffering by unfairly demonizing the Jewish state and trivializing the increase in global anti-Semitism. They have also given a pass to those on the hard left who have used Holocaust and Nazi references in mischaracterizing Israeli self defense actions.
Consider the case of Norman Finkelstein, a hero of the hard left. Finkelstein regularly uses Nazi references in his attacks on Israel. He has said the following about the Israeli Defense Forces: “[I] can’t imagine why Israel’s apologists would be offended by a comparison with the Gestapo.” (This same formulation has been used by Finkelstein’s British clone, Gilad Atzmon and by others on the hard left.)
Most recently, Finkelstein, who regularly refers to the Holocaust as a “circus,” responded to a critic with the words “Heil Hitler,” and to Israeli President Shimon Peres’s Christmas greeting to the Christian world with the words, “And a ‘Heil Hitler!’ to you too.”
So proud is Finkelstein of his references to Hitler that he regularly includes them on his website. Other Finkelstein misuses of the Holocaust include calling prominent Jews “Nazis” and comparing them to Eichmann, Streicher and Ribbentrop. He has also said they are “parasites” who “resemble stereotypes straight out of Der Sturmer.”
Yet while J Street, which claims to be a pro-Israel lobby, went out of its way to criticize Palin’s remarks, it has not leveled comparable criticism against Finkelstein and other prominent leftists who abuse the language of Jewish suffering. The reason is obvious: Many J Street supporters echo Finkelstein’s demonization of Israel.
J Street does not go after Finkelstein for the same reason it refused to go after Richard Goldstone: If it did, it would lose support from many on the hard left, which it is trying to cultivate. (One of J Street’s leading supporters, Letty Pogrebin, has praised Goldstone as a modern-day prophet and supported the most egregious statements made in his report.)
Why J Street felt it necessary to enter the kerfuffle about the use of blood libel may not be obvious to those who actually believe J Street is a “pro-Israel, pro-peace” lobby that limits its activities to issues surrounding the Israeli Arab conflict. After all, J Street does not claim to be in the business of defending the Jewish people against defamation as does the ADL. Nor is it a protector of Jewish sensitivities as is the Wiesenthal Center. But to those of us who understand what J Street really is, its attack on Palin makes perfect sense. J Street is a lobby for the Democratic Party in general and for the Obama administration in particular. That’s why it doesn’t deviate from the Obama line, doesn’t criticize the Obama administration, and doesn’t miss an opportunity to dump on Republicans, even those who support Israel.
J Street will respond to this charge of a double standard by arguing that Palin is a prominent public figure, a potential presidential candidate, while Finkelstein and others on the hard left who abuse the language of Jewish suffering are marginal figures.
But that misses the mark. Those of us who are liberals have a special obligation to criticize abusers of the left, just as those who are conservatives have a special obligation to criticize abusers of the right, such as Patrick Buchanan.
It’s too easy for J Street to pile on when the alleged abuser is a conservative Republican. It’s far more difficult, and costly, for J Street to go after fellow leftists who abuse language. But that is its responsibility if it is to assume the role of protector of Jewish sensibilities. I doubt it is a role the organization is willing to assume, except when it serves the interests of its real clients: the Democratic Party, the Obama administration and the left. That is why they went after Palin, even though her remarks had nothing to do with Israel or peace.
Any genuine lobby group for Israel and for peace must assure that support for Israel and for peace remains a bipartisan concern. J Street wants to turn it into a partisan wedge issue that divides Democrats and Republicans, liberals and conservatives, young and old. That’s why it focuses so much criticism against Republicans who support Israel.
Such divisions do not serve the interests of peace or Israeli security.
Alan Dershowitz, a noted attorney and law professor, is the author, most recently, of the novel “The Trials of Zion.”
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At age 104, my mother was still concerned about her relationship with Hashem.
Obama’s incompetence, the way his naive worldview and credulity have made a fool of him, are equally frightening
“The only difference between this world and the time of Meshiach is our bondage to the gentile kingdoms.”
Klein’s challenger has demonstrated a propensity to unleash poisonous vitriol, even to other Zionists
President Obama’s foreign policy is based on fantasy.
Welcome the book of Leviticus!
If the nationalist Knesset members don’t provide the answer, the Arab MKs will do so in their place.
International Agunah Day falls annually on Ta’anis Esther, this year on March 13.
Yeshiva University Museum recently hosted an exhibit titled “Threshold to the Sacred.”
Even a foxhole Yid has to admit that antisemitism is on the upswing.
As shocking and insulting and horrifying as it is, Nazi war criminals are still living freely among us.
One can almost imagine a shocked Mr. Kerry thinking to himself, “How could he?” Yet not only did Mr. Putin do what he did, China, one of the three major international players along with the U.S. and Russia, agreed with him, not with Mr. Kerry.
Ramaz is a venerable Modern Orthodox educational institution whose mission statement contains the explicit commitment to “Ahavat Yisrael, and love and support for the State of Israel.”
Many American experts—diplomatic, nuclear, political, economic—believe that even the risks to the United States exceed the benefits.
If the media and the international community continue to enable these tyrannical regimes, the cynical dead baby strategy will expand in scope.
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Hamas wants Palestinians civilians, especially babies, to be killed precisely so that they can display the kind of photographs that were shown around the world.
A ‘pinkwashing’ conference – focused on how Israel allegedly uses its protection of gay rights to cover up its treatment of Arabs – is being sponsored by the Gay and Lesbian Studies Center at CUNY’s Graduate Center this April.
If Cardinal Rodriguez Maradiaga were to be elected pope, much of the good work done by recent popes in building bridges between the Catholic Church and the Jews would be endangered.
What happened at Brooklyn College demonstrates the wisdom of keeping academic departments from sponsoring non-academic hate fests, such as the BDS event.
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